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Localism can also refer to a systematic approach to organizing a national government so that local autonomy is retained rather than following the usual pattern of government and political power becoming centralized over time.
On a conceptual level, there are important affinities between localism and deliberative democracy. This concerns mainly the democratic goal of engaging citizens in decisions that affect them. Consequently, localism will encourage stronger democratic and political participatory forums and widening public sphere connectivity.
Localists assert that throughout the world's history, most social and economic institutions are scaled at the local level, as opposed to regional, interregional, or global (basically until the late 19th to the early 20th centuries). Through ongoing forms of colonialism, imperialism and industrial expansion local scales become less central. Most proponents of localism position themselves as defending aspects of this way of life; the phrase "relocalization" is often used in this sense.
In the 20th century, localism drew heavily on the writings of Leopold Kohr, E.F. Schumacher, Wendell Berry, and Kirkpatrick Sale, among others. More generally, localism draws on a wide range of movements and concerns and it proposes that by re-localizing democratic and economic relationships, social, economic and environmental problems will be more definable and solutions more easily created. They include anarchism, bioregionalism, environmentalism, the Greens, and more specific concerns about food, monetary policy and education. Political parties of all persuasions have also occasionally favored the devolution of power to local authorities. In this vein Alan Milburn, a Labour Party MP, has spoken of "making services more locally accountable, devolving more power to local communities and, in the process, forging a modern relationship between the state, citizens and services"
Beginning in the 1970s, a particularly visible strain of localism in the United States was a movement started by Alice Waters to buy locally produced products. This movement originated with organic farming and likely gained impetus because of growing dissatisfaction with organic certification and the failing economic model of industrial agriculture for small farmers. While the advocates of local consumption draw on protectionist arguments, they also appealed primarily to an environmental argument: that pollution caused by transporting goods was a major externality in a global economy, and one that "localvores" could greatly diminish. Also, environmental issues can be addressed when decision making power is held by those affected by the issues instead of power sources that do not understand the needs of local communities.
Localism as a philosophy is related to the principle of subsidiarity.
Some localists believe that society should be organised politically along community lines, with each community being free to conduct its own business in whatever fashion its people see fit. The size of the communities is defined such that their members are both familiar and dependent on each other, a size something along the lines of a small town or village.
In reference to localism, Edward Goldsmith, former editor of The Ecologist magazine, claims: "The problems facing the world today can only be solved by restoring the functioning of those natural systems which once satisfied our needs, i.e. by fully exploiting those incomparable resources which are individual people, families, communities and ecosystems, which together make up the biosphere or real world"
Wayne Yeung questions the assumption that localism is a sub-school of European-American populism. Yeung raised an example in which localism is a cultural or civic value rather than a value that supports ethnic understanding in Hong Kong identity politics.
Jane Wills argued that an increasing numbers of populist politicians are endorsing localism as a framework for public policy. She defined populism as a form of politics that involves people speaking in a register that is authentic to the experiences and needs of those people. In other words, most likely Populist Party policies would contradict parties that support the elites. She also used the term "anti-politics" to describe localist politicians because they stand against mainstream politics. She used the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) as an example of a party adopting localism into their policies. Mainstream politicians from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties were threatened by the rise of UKIP.
Localism and Third World
Many localists are concerned with the problems of the development of the Third World. Many advocate that third world countries should aim to rely on their own goods and services to escape from what they see are the unfair trade relations with the developed world. George Monbiot claims this idea does not recognise the fact that, even if Third World countries often get a raw deal in trade relations, refusing to trade at all would be a significant blow, as the countries need the revenue generated by trade.
Some localists are also against immigration from poor countries to rich ones. One of the problems they claim results from such immigration is the drain on the intellectual resources of poor countries, so called brain drain. For example, in the past decade, Bulgaria is estimated to have lost more than 50,000 qualified scientists and skilled workers through emigration every year. About a fifth of them were highly educated specialists in chemistry, biology, medicine and physics.
Some localists are against political intervention and peace keeping measures. They believe that communities should find solutions to their own problems and in their own time, in whatever fashion they decide. They believe that all societies are capable of achieving long term peace once given the opportunity to do so.
Localism usually describes social measures or trends which emphasise or value local and small-scale phenomena. This is in contrast to large, all-encompassing frameworks for action or belief. Localism can therefore be contrasted with globalisation, and in some cases localist activism has parallels with opposition to corporate-led globalization. Localism can be geographical, but there are also transnational linkages. Localist movements are often organized in support of locally owned, independent businesses and nonprofit organizations. Although the focus of this aspect of localist activism is on "buy local," "support local food," and "bank local" campaigns, some organizations and businesses also combine the goal of increased local ownership with environmental sustainability and social fairness goals.
Localism in media to support a diverse news media in the face of increasing corporate control. The US Federal Communications Commission is using this term when seeking input on its rules and states that "promoting localism is a key goal of the Commission's media ownership rules."
Localism in government structures, which can include:
Tertiary government where small community councils make relevant decisions, with some degree of independence from local or national government.
Workers' councils, where the employees of a particular workplace discuss and negotiate with their employer, rather have this done by a national union which may be remote from local issues.
Postmodernism can be seen as a sort of cultural localism, where accepted cultural values may be ignored in favour of people creating their own criteria of value.
Exclusive localism holds that there can't be more than one legitimate institutionally visible church at one given location, the variation of which varies but is usually held to be either a city or a neighbourhood.
Localism is more generally the congregationalist idea that each local church should be autonomous, only extended to reject any formal association of churches. It is specially relevant among Baptists, where localists reject the forming of Conventions.
Religion (Churches of Christ):
The congregationalist idea of local autonomy is a cornerstone of restoration movement fellowships that identify as churches of Christ or Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. Founders of the movement declared their independence from various denominations, seeking a fresh start to restore the New Testament church, and abandoning creeds. The names "Church of Christ," "Christian Church" and "Disciples of Christ" were adopted by the movement because they believed these terms to be biblical and not man made.
A converging of Christians across denominational lines in search of a return to a hypothesized original, "pre-denominational" Christianity. Participants in this movement sought to base doctrine and practice on the Bible alone, rather than recognizing the traditional councils and denominational hierarchies that had come to define Christianity since the 1st century AD. Members of the Churches of Christ believe that Jesus founded only one church, that the current divisions between Christians are not God's will, and that the only basis for restoring Christian unity is the Bible. They typically prefer to be known simply as "Christians", without any further religious or denominational identification. They see themselves as recreating the New Testament church established by Christ.
Churches of Christ generally share these theological beliefs:
Refusal to hold to any formalized creeds or statements of faith, preferring instead a reliance on the Bible alone for doctrine and practice;
One of the largest divisions within churches of Christ was due to controversy of foreign missionary work. Opponents of what they dubbed "Institutionalism" argued against it both as a drain on local congregations and as sinful if done in cooperation with other congregations. This belief extended to cooperative support of orphanages, homes, large-scale radio and TV programs and ministries.
The Restoration Movement is so averse to association with other congregations that they renounce the term "protestant" distancing their churches from any association to any denomination; even one they would have to "protest" and evolve from.
^ abC. Leonard Allen and Richard T. Hughes, "Discovering Our Roots: The Ancestry of the Churches of Christ," Abilene Christian University Press, 1988, ISBN0-89112-006-8
^"The church of Jesus Christ is non-denominational. It is neither Catholic, Jewish nor Protestant. It was not founded in 'protest' of any institution, and it is not the product of the 'Restoration' or 'Reformation.' It is the product of the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11ff) grown in the hearts of men." V. E. Howard, What Is the Church of Christ? 4th Edition (Revised), 1971, page 29
^Batsell Barrett Baxter and Carroll Ellis, Neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jew, tract, Church of Christ (1960) ASIN: B00073CQPM. According to Richard Thomas Hughes in Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996 (ISBN0-8028-4086-8, ISBN978-0-8028-4086-8), this is "arguably the most widely distributed tract ever published by the Churches of Christ or anyone associated with that tradition."
^"On the cornerstone of the Southside Church of Christ in Springfield, Missouri, is this inscription: 'Church of Christ, Founded in Jerusalem, A.D. 33. This building erected in 1953.' This is not an unusual claim; for similar wording can be found on buildings of churches of Christ in many parts of the United States. The Christians who use such cornerstones reason that the church of Jesus Christ began on Pentecost, A.D. 33. Therefore, to be true to the New Testament, the twentieth-century church must trace its origins to the first century." Page 1, Robert W. Hooper, A Distinct People: A History of the Churches of Christ in the 20th Century, Simon and Schuster, 1993, ISBN1-878990-26-8, ISBN978-1-878990-26-6, 391 pages
^"Traditional Churches of Christ have pursued the restorationist vision with extraordinary zeal. Indeed, the cornerstones of many Church of Christ buildings read 'Founded, A.D. 33.' " page 212, Samuel S. Hill, Charles H. Lippy, Charles Reagan Wilson, Encyclopedia of Religion in the South, Mercer University Press, 2005